In the first race for IMSA’s new GTD Pro class, which replaces the GTLM division in which RLL fielded an M8 GTE last year, the works BMW team struggled for pace as the M4 GT3 made its US competition bow.
It sat at the bottom of the fastest lap timesheets, the M4’s in-race best of 1m46.897s set by Jesse Krohn aboard the #25 entry almost two seconds off the best GTD Pro lap of 1m45.087s from Laurens Vanthoor’s KCMG Porsche. It was also slower than the best efforts posted by many silver-graded drivers in the pro-am GTD class.
Although both cars finished the race, with the car Krohn shared with Augusto Farfus, John Edwards and Connor De Phillippi classified seventh, it was 13 laps behind the winning Pfaff Motorsport Porsche after suffering early diffuser damage.
The sister #24 entry driven by Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann, Nick Yelloly and Sheldon van der Linde was 46 laps down in ninth after damage to the diffuser and a puncture.
Rahal, an outright Daytona winner as a driver in 1981, said the team has a lot of work to do before the Sebring 12 Hours next month if it is to be competitive.
“That was a long day for us,” he said.
“It was the first race with the new car for our team. Prior to this, we had only had one short test at Daytona in December 2021 and were a little surprised that we did not have the problems back then that have slowed us down here.
“A big thank you goes to my team, the drivers, BMW M Motorsport, and all those who never gave up during the past 36 hours and tried to get the best possible out of the car.
“We now have a very long to do list which we must work through in order to challenge at the front in Sebring.”
#24 BMW M Team RLL BMW M4 GT3: Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann, Nick Yelloly, Sheldon van der Linde
Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
Outgoing BMW Motorsport boss Mike Krack, who will join the Aston Martin Formula 1 team as its new team principal, echoed Rahal in labelling the event “a tough race”.
“Although we did a lot of test kilometres during the development phase, this showed that an outing under race conditions poses additional challenges,” he said.
“We must work together to improve the reliability, operations and performance, as we were unable to match the pace of the leaders at any point in the race.
“We will now analyse all the findings to ensure that we return to the front again at the 12 Hours of Sebring.”